I’ve received SSI benefits since 2016. While I am grateful that I receive benefits, in the future, I hope to find a job. Society tells people that working is what gives people a sense of worth. Growing up, I was always told to work hard so that I could have a well-paying job in the future. Unfortunately, there are numerous barriers for people like me when it comes to employment.
Employers are often interested in hiring me until I disclose my Cerebral Palsy. This is illegal, but it happens anyway. I’ve had employers rescind interviews after I disclose. Family members even encouraged me not to disclose my disability to prospective employers.
I rely on Medicaid insurance which pays for my PCA services. I can’t make too much money or I risk losing my Medicaid coverage. Out of pocket, my PCA services would cost more than $50,000 a year. Even a brief loss of coverage could be catastrophic for me. My PCA works for me full time. If I were to lose Medicaid coverage, he would no longer be paid.
I rely on my PCA to assist me with activities of daily living. I would be unable to shower, or use the bathroom without assistance. It would be impossible for me to work without access to a PCA. Working 40 hours a week without using the bathroom would be nearly impossible. Could you perform well at your job knowing that you didn’t have access to a bathroom?
Workplaces are supposed to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. However, they are not obligated to provide assistance with personal care needs. Two years ago, I applied to work as a host at Texas Roadhouse. I had an interview scheduled and was excited. I brought up the fact that my PCA would be accompanying me to work in an email to the manager, and she canceled my interview.
Please don’t judge people who are on disability. Working as a disabled person is very challenging. I want to work, but society makes it harder than it needs to be. Unemployment because of a disability or illness doesn’t make someone worthless.
“Personal Assistance in the Workplace.” Job Accommodation Network, Job Accommodation Network, https://askjan.org/topics/persassist.cfm.